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Ellie has a ball highlighting warning signs of diabetes

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Ellie Lane was enjoying the pantomime in Swansea Grand Theatre when she received a call telling her she needed go to hospital immediately.

A routine blood test had revealed dangerously high blood sugar levels, associated with diabetes, which required urgent medical attention.

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That was in 2020 but since then Swansea Bay’s diabetes team has worked with Ellie, who has Down’s Syndrome, to help her manage the condition.

Now, ahead of World Diabetes Day on 14th November, Ellie has enjoyed her own Cinderella moment through donning a ball gown and holding a photoshoot to help publicise the signs and symptoms of diabetes as a thank you for the support she has received.

Her mum, Jane O’Kane, said: “Following a routine blood test Ellie had a call from the hospital. At the time she was in the Grand Theatre watching the Christmas panto but she had to leave immediately and be admitted to hospital as her blood sugars were dangerously high.

“Looking back she had lost some weight leading up to her diagnosis, she had become very thirsty and was drinking a lot more.

“She stayed in Singleton Hospital for a few days, where she received wonderful support and advice from the diabetes nurses, before being discharged home and into the care of the Morriston Hospital based diabetes team.”

Ellie was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and her family were naturally worried about how she would cope, but she quickly adjusted.

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Her mother said: “Her care has been led and overseen by Professor Jeffrey Stephens with whom she has regular reviews and check-ups.

“Ellie has learnt how to check her blood sugars and inject herself with insulin with each meal. She has access to the diabetes team’s nurses and the dieticians who have provided, and continue to provide, Ellie with invaluable support, education and advice.”

When Ellie said she wanted to warn others of the signs her mother stepped in and arranged a photoshoot at a well-known beauty spot – Penllergare Valley Woods.

She said: “This year Ellie decided she would like to do something that helps others by raising the profile of the signs and symptoms of diabetes on World Diabetes Day.

“They are often referred to as toilet, thirsty, tired and thinner as you need to urinate more, although you feel thirsty most if the time, lose weight and feel tired.”

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Her mum booked a professional photographer but then came the surprise.

“The Capture a Dream photographer, who was contacted to take some photos, asked if Ellie would like to wear a blue gown as Swansea-based Kylie Rose Boutique Dress Company would like to loan her one!

“The opportunity for a photoshoot in a beautiful dress – the same colour that represents Diabetes Day – in such a lovely setting was wonderful and one that Ellie will cherish forever.”

Morriston Hospital’s diabetes team (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Ellie, aged 23, said she wanted others to know that while diabetes can be challenging it doesn’t define her.

She said: “I won’t let diabetes define me. I attend Gower College. I have a great social life, including social events at MIXTUP with friends Beth and Pasha, I’m due to start a part time job at Dunelm, supported by Workfit, and I have a lovely boyfriend called Lyall!”

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Greeshma Sibi, Morriston Hospital’s lead diabetes specialist nurse, said: “Morriston’s diabetes team is so proud of Ellie as she wants to share her experience of living with diabetes to others especially with people with type 1 diabetes.

“It has been a real pleasure to support Ellie and her family on her type 1 diabetes journey and we hope to continue this.’’

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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